Friday, April 19, 2024

SPORTS UPDATE: Irish lucky, or just good?

The luck of the Irish was too much for the Spartans to overcome as Notre Dame’s last-minute heroics polished off MSU, 21-17.

Today’s game inside Spartan Stadium was the fourth-consecutive contest, the Spartans (2-2) and Fighting Irish (4-0) put on a show - MSU had won the last five matchups.

This time, however, it was Notre Dame that came up with the last big play - a 60-yard completion to Irish wide receiver Arnaz Battle from backup quarterback Pat Dillingham with less than two minutes to play, giving Notre Dame an improbable 21-17 victory.

“It was unfortunate we couldn’t sustain what we got going,” MSU head coach Bobby Williams said. “We had a chance to win.”

That play silenced most of the 75,182 in attendance who had just witnessed a miraculous touchdown catch by Spartan junior split end Charles Rogers.

Junior quarterback Jeff Smoker hooked up with Rogers on a 21-yard slant route - Rogers’ left foot touched the back of the end zone as the 6-4, 205-pound Spartan landed out of bounds, putting the Spartans up 17-14. It was the first and only time MSU would control the lead.

Rogers had 7 catches for 175 yards with two touchdowns.

But it was all Notre Dame early on. The Fighting Irish took charge early with a 10-play, 80-yard drive to take a 7-0 lead.

The Spartans attempted to respond, but MSU kicker Dave Rayner’s field goal went wide left. On the Spartans next drive, Rayner redeemed himself with a 35-yard field goal.

After that, both defenses took over. And it seemed the score would remain 7-3 going into the half, until Notre Dame safety Gerome Sapp intercepted a tipped ball and returned it 13 yards to MSU’s 28-yard line.

The Irish capitalized on a 15-yard touchdown pass from starting quarterback Carlyle Holiday to wide receiver Maurice Stovall to make the score 14-3.

In the third quarter, the defenses took control again as both teams went scoreless.

With the aid of two penalties totaling 20 yards, the Spartans scored their first touchdown of the game to make it 14-10. Smoker found Rogers for a 38-yard touchdown.

The touchdown marked Rogers’ 12th-consecutive regular-season game with at least one touchdown, which ties the NCAA record.

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